Belly fat is no joking matter, especially in men. If you are carrying around a little extra weight you are not alone. However carrying extra body weight, especially belly fat is is putting you at risk for some potentially serious health issues.

The trouble with belly fat is that it is not limited to the extra layer just below the skin known as the subcutaneous fat. It is also the visceral fat which lies deep inside the abdomen. Most people don't realize that when they have large midsections that there is actually this visceral fat (deep belly fat) that wraps and can cover your internal organs. The love handle fatty tissue is more close to the skin surface than the deep visceral fat cells in the midsection. Fat around the midsection is especially dangerous for men as it greatly increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers and type II diabetes.

Fat cells actually regulate metabolic functions and experts believe fat cells in the belly release especially high levels of fatty acids, which can adversely effect a person's blood sugar and insulin metabolism.

Men with large bellies and deep (visceral) fat tend to lose sensitivity to insulin, a crucial hormone that helps the body burn energy. When insulin loses its power, the body responds by pumping out more of the hormone, which only throws the system further off balance.

As a result, people with extra belly fat are vulnerable to a whole cascade of problems known as insulin resistance syndrome or metabolic syndrome. The syndrome -- which is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans -- comes with a frightening array of potential complications. For one thing, people with insulin resistance often develop type 2 diabetes. They also tend to have high blood pressure and too much bad cholesterol, a recipe for heart disease, according to numerous studies.

Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle and the convenience of recreational or fast foods and processed foods is a key contributor to the increased belly fat in men in the US. Studies show that after 8 months of a sedentary inactive lifestyle men increase their visceral (dangerous body fat) by 9%. Therefore increasing their chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, and type II diabetes. Another health issue with belly fat for men is that it is one of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction. So problems above the belt often leads to problems below the belt especially in your 40's and 50's.

The good news is that this is all reversible, and can be changed and maintained through a healthy diet and regular exercise!!!

Peter Burke 4/9/15